Published November 04, 2011
The testimony in the six week trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's personal physician, has come to an end. Now it's up to the jury to decide if he's guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
I've been covering the trial for Fox News Channel. Here's my view of what we've seen over the last six weeks.
Deputy District Attorney David Walgren's presentation was very direct, professional and spot on, the whole way through. In the first part of the trial his delivery was very stoic but when he came back for rebuttal closing arguments he was very passionate.
In my view, the reason he became so passionate at the end was that the defense lawyers seemed to question the integrity of some of the State's witnessess. I believe Walgren took it personally and as a result really had a very passionate closing rebuttal argument.
On the other hand, Murray's defense team had a very difficult job. The evidence against his client appears to be overwhelming that the actions of Dr. Murray caused the death of Michael Jackson.
When you have a case where the facts are very difficult, the defense's job is to confuse the jury. They need to throw up as many smokescreens as possible.
The only critique I have is of the presentation, because I generally don't like to step into the shoes of the lawyer, is that the problem I had was that he didn't sell his case well enough. Lead defense attorney Ed Chernoff was very scattered. but more importantly what was very different was that after the closing argument, when he sat down at the defense table, and the Deputy District Attorney Walgren stood up, the defense attorney put his head in his hands on the defense table, almost appearing beaten, or exhausted. Simply put, the body language was not favorable. And that was highly unusual to see.
Then there is the jury. We have seven men and five women. They are Hispanic, African-American and Caucasian. They are in deliberations on Friday. As for how long they'll be deliberating, no one knows.
If Murray is convicted he could get up to four years in jail. But the general consensus is that because of the overcrowding of the jail system in California, he may be given probation and house arrest instead. And of course he would also lose his medical license.
The judge in the case was excellent. He was very decisive, very direct and very professional.
If the jury gets hung up on anything it would most likely be over the cause of death. I say that because even though you can have a standard of care violation by a doctor, that doesn't, in and of itself, mean the physician is guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The State must till must prove the cause of death.
Finally, I was struck by two relevant statements made by the defense attorney in his on closing arguments:
1) This is not a reality show, this is real life.
2) If the victim had been anyone other than Michael Jackson we would not be here.
Those words offended Deputy District Attorney Walgren. It made it sound like this prosecution of Murray was done under pressure from the family.
In his closing arguments Walgren basically said, we don't discriminate as to victims. This case is not about Michael Jackson. It's about Dr. Murray and his actions.
That's my take on the Murray trial. Soon we will know what the jury thinks.
Robert "Bob" Massi is an attorney and Fox News Legal Analyst. He has been covering the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray for Fox News Channel.